Yesterday, World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles launched a scathing Twitter attack on the national team following their chastening defeat, taking aim at the players, coach Jorge Sampaoli and the Argentinian Football Association.
He claimed the “prestige” earned by past Argentinian sides had been tossed away and that the team’s decline since the last World Cup — when they finished runners-up — had been disguised only because of the “unrivalled genius” of Lionel Messi.
The former Tottenham midfielder’s tirade began by saying “From world champion to being the worst national team in Argentina history. Where to begin?”
Ardiles then criticises the AFA, which made three coaching changes in a year as La Albiceleste struggled during qualifying, before turning his ire to Sampaoli, who he reserved his most stinging criticism for.
The 65-year-old said of the former Chile and Sevilla boss: “Sampaoli: Dreadful. Finished his cycle insulting the Croatian players. Arrogant, ignorant. Even having the best player in the world was not capable of creating a competitive team. Never the same 11 during his tenure.”
Ardiles also blasted the team’s tactics, adding: “Plan A of Sampaoli. Give the ball to Messi and wait for a miracle. If Plan A doesn’t work, Plan B. Errr. There is no plan B. Let alone plan C or D. Defensively: Make fouls. Wherever it is and regardless of the circumstances, or the consequences.”
The players did not escape Ardiles’ anger either, the ex-midfielder saying: “To be playing outside of Argentina does not mean they are elite players. Many of them were not even starters in their own teams.”
“Embarrassing also the “bullying” of our most experienced players: Mascherano, Otamendi. The incident with Rakitic. Please Otamendi: Apologise.”
Ardiles finished off in his final point by highlighting the contribution made by Messi, while pointing out that even the Barcelona superstar was unable to solve the national team’s problems.
He said “All the Argentinian decline of recent times was hidden by this unrivalled genius who we are lucky was born in Argentina. But even for him it was too much at the end of the day. Leo: Many thanks for everything. And good luck in your future.”
Nigeria’s win over Iceland yesterday revives Argentina’s Group D chances — they face the Super Eagles in St Petersburg on Tuesday in a must-win game.
Messi has received plenty of criticism for his display and downbeat body language during the Croatia defeat, with former France star Emmanuel Petit saying he should be “ashamed”.
Petit told Paddy Power News: “It was shameful to watch them. To see Messi walking with his head down, he should be ashamed.
“I don’t feel sorry for him, either. I think Messi should wake up a bit more, because when things don’t go well for him, he’s always down on the pitch, he shows no reaction.”
“He’s not there anymore. He’s not running, he’s walking. He’s not concerned about the ball. Come on.”
Meanwhile, FIFA is working with Russian police to identify Argentina fans that attacked a Croatia fan in the stadium in Nizhny Novgorod.
Video footage of Thursday night’s incident, which involved at least five Argentina supporters punching and kicking a lone Croatia fan, was published on the Twitter page of TyC Sports, an Argentine sports channel.
The attack lasts barely 10 seconds before other Argentina fans intervene, but the incident ends with the defenceless supporter being kicked one more time in the back of the head.
A FIFA spokesperson said: “We are absolutely shocked by the images in question. FIFA firmly condemns the behaviour of these so-called fans and reiterates that violence has no place in football.
“FIFA is cooperating with the relevant security authorities and will do its utmost to contribute to identifying the individuals involved in these criminal acts in order to ensure that they are punished accordingly.”